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Fireworks and Grilling Safety

Posted at 2:50 p.m.

Happy 4th of July! We hope you have a fun holiday weekend — as well as a safe one.

Many holidays are associated with certain types of celebrations or food. And July 4th is no exception. Fireworks and cookouts are often among the first things to come to mind, in addition to what Independence Day means to our country as we celebrate our nation’s 239th anniversary.

As you enjoy your celebrations, keep the following safety types in mind.

Fireworks Safety

Many fireworks are not available in Northern Virginia because they are illegal. Firecrackers, cherry bombs and skyrockets are just a few examples of fireworks which may be purchased in other areas, but are illegal here. Since even the possession of unapproved fireworks is prohibited in Fairfax County, such fireworks will be confiscated and the person possessing them can be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor. This carries a maximum penalty of a $2,500 fine and/or one-year in jail.

As a reminder from our fire department, any firework, which explodes, emits a flame or sparks higher than 12 feet, or performs as a projectile is prohibited by the Fairfax County Fire Prevention Code. In addition, a permit is required for the sale of all fireworks, and these permits are only valid from June 1 to July 15 of each year.

fireworks safety

If you do use fireworks — or are around fireworks — please follow these safety tips:

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
  • Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees — hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.

Of course the safest way to enjoy fireworks is to visit a local fireworks display, such as the one at Lake Fairfax Park in Reston.

Lake Fairfax Park fireworks

Grilling Safety

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service reminds us that we can’t see bacteria on our burgers, hotdogs and other meats and poultry; checking the internal temperature is the best way to ensure protection. They recommend that you practice food safety by “Grilling Like A Pro” using a food thermometer. What does it mean to grill like a PRO?

  • P—Place the Thermometer: Think your food is ready? Make sure by checking the internal temperature. Find the thickest part of the meat (usually about 1.5 to 2 inches deep), and insert the thermometer. If you’re cooking a thinner piece of meat, like chicken breasts or hamburger patties, insert the thermometer from the side. Make sure that the probe reaches the center of the meat.
  • R—Read the Temperature: Wait about 10 to 20 seconds for an accurate temperature reading. Use the following safe internal temperature guidelines for your meat and poultry.
    • Beef, Pork, Lamb, & Veal (steaks, roasts, and chops): 145 °F with a 3-minute rest time.
    • Ground meats: 160 °F.
    • Whole poultry, poultry breasts, & ground poultry: 165 °F.
  • O—Off the Grill: Once the meat and poultry reach their safe minimum internal temperatures, take the food off the grill and place it on a clean platter. Don’t put cooked food on the same platter that held raw meat or poultry. Also remember to clean your food thermometer probe with hot, soapy water or disposable wipes.

Grill Like a PRO

The Fairfax County Health Department also offers six grilling tips, including keeping cold food cold, keeping hot food hot, thawing meat and poultry, marinating food in the refrigerator, and more.

Flash Flood Warning in Effect Until 5:30 p.m.

Posted 3 p.m.

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning until 5:30 p.m. due to the heavy rainfall we’ve received today. Excessive runoff from the heavy rain will cause flash flooding of small creeks, streams, urban areas, highways, streets, underpasses and other drainage areas and low lying spots.

Key safety tips to keep in mind:

  • If you’re driving, please do not drive through flooded roads. Turn around don’t drown.
  • Please keep children away from creeks and streams as the water may rise quickly.
  • If you are in a low area or near a small stream or drainage ditch, expect water to rise rapidly. Stay safe and head to higher ground if needed.

Be Careful on Roads … Turn Around Don’t Drown

Posted at 9:30 p.m.

After heavy rain in Fairfax County, Richmond Highway in both directions is closed due to high water on the road. Other roads in the county also may be affected.

Do not drive through water on roadways and avoid small streams that may flood. Also, keep children away from creeks and streams.

Fairfax County remains under a flash flood warning this evening.

Sign up for Fairfax Alerts to stay in touch with weather watches and warnings.

Health Officials Investigating Confirmed Measles Case

Posted at 5:35 p.m.

The Fairfax County Health Department and the District of Columbia Department of Health are investigating a confirmed case of measles in an adult with recent history of international travel.

The individual has been discharged from Inova Fairfax Medical Campus and is no longer contagious. Prior to diagnosis, the individual visited multiple locations in both Washington, D.C. and Fairfax County.

Public health workers are engaged in a coordinated effort to identify those who were in direct contact with the person with measles and are making the appropriate notifications. Out of an abundance of caution, the health departments are also informing people who may have been exposed during the time period prior to the diagnosis when the person was contagious, between May 10 and May 16, 2015.

People who were at the locations listed below, at the times indicated, may have been exposed to the measles virus and should call the health department in that jurisdiction to determine their risk for measles.

In Fairfax County, a call center has been established to address concerns and answer questions about measles. Anyone concerned about exposures in Fairfax County are encouraged to call 703-267-3511 between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. today and between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, May 20 and May 21.

For concerns about exposures in Washington, D.C., people should contact the District of Columbia Department of Health at 202-420-0199.

Preventative treatment may be recommended for those who were exposed and are unvaccinated and at high risk (including pregnant women, infants under the age of 12 months, and people with severely compromised immune systems). Please call the health department in your jurisdiction as soon as possible to be assessed for exposure risk.

Measles is a highly contagious illness caused by a virus that is spread through coughing, sneezing and contact with secretions from the nose, mouth and throat of an infected individual. While few measles cases are reported in the United States, the disease is common in many parts of the world.

Symptoms of measles usually appear within 7 to 21 days after exposure and can include fever greater than 101 degrees, runny nose, watery red eyes and cough, followed by a blotchy rash that appears on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. The disease is most severe in infants and adults.

People who have received at least one dose of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine in the past are at very low risk of being infected with measles. Measles is easily preventable through safe and effective MMR vaccine. All members of the community who have not been vaccinated are encouraged to do so to protect themselves and others.

Residents who were present at any of the locations listed above during the exposure times should review their family’s vaccination history and call their health care provider if they experience any symptoms of measles. Please call ahead before going to the doctor’s office or the emergency room and tell them that you may have been exposed to measles.

If you or a family member has not received the MMR vaccination and you were present at one of the locations listed below during the exposure time, then please call either the Fairfax County Health Department or the D.C. Department of Health at the phone numbers listed.

For more information on measles, visit the Fairfax County Health Department at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/hd, the District of Columbia Department of Health at www.doh.dc.gov or Virginia Department of Health at www.vdh.state.va.us.

Locations in Washington, D.C.:

Location Exposure Time Health Department to Call for Questions/Concerns
Embassy Suites
900 10th St., NW
Washington, D.C.
Sunday, May 10 through
Friday, May 15, All hours
District of Columbia Department of Health
202-420-0199
IFC Building
2121 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, D.C.
Monday, May 11
7 a.m.-2 p.m.
District of Columbia Department of Health
202-420-0199

Locations in Fairfax County, Va.:

Location Exposure Time Health Department to Call
Inova Fairfax Medical Campus
Emergency Department
3300 Gallows Road
Falls Church, Va.
Tuesday, May 12
10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Fairfax County HD
703-267-3511
Inova Fairfax Medical Campus
North Tower (Floors 6-11)
3300 Gallows Road
Falls Church, Va.
Friday, May 15 at 3:30 p.m. to Saturday,
May 16 at 3 p.m.
Fairfax County HD
703-267-3511
Inova Fairfax Medical Campus
North Tower (Lobby)
3300 Gallows Road
Falls Church, Va.
Friday, May 15, 3:30 p.m.-7 p.m.
Saturday, May 16, 7 a.m.-10:30 a.m.
Fairfax County HD
703-267-3511
Inova Fairfax Medical Campus
Women’s and Children’s Bldg.
(Ground Level & Basement)
3300 Gallows Road
Falls Church, Va.
Friday, May 15, 3:30 p.m.-7 p.m.
Saturday, May 16, 7 a.m.-10:30 a.m.
Fairfax County HD
703-267-3511
Woodburn Medical Park Building #2
3289 Woodburn Road
Annandale, Va.
Friday, May 15, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Fairfax County HD
703-267-3511
The Shelby Apartments,
6200 N. Kings Highway Alexandria, Va.
Sunday, May 10, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Friday, May 15, 3 p.m.-7 p.m.
Fairfax County HD
703-267-3511

VDOT Says Roads Treacherous; Numerous Accidents Reported

Posted at 5:05 p.m.

Truck Accident

Police are receiving numerous accident reports as road conditions worsen.

Road conditions remain treacherous around the region this afternoon and there are multiple road closures throughout the county. Fairfax County 9-1-1 has received calls from drivers asking about abandoning their vehicles. These vehicles will be towed at the owner’s expense. If you can safely move your vehicle out of travel lanes you can call a tow truck to get the vehicle home; any vehicle left for more than 12 hours or deemed a road hazard by the police will be towed.

Abandoned vehicles may also contribute to accidents and the owner will be ticketed in this event. Exiting your vehicle puts you and other drivers in danger. If your vehicle is stuck and you are in danger, call 9-1-1, but otherwise you should have it towed.

Please remain off the roads if possible. Visibility is limited, temperatures are dropping and conditions are further deteriorating.

More than 3,800 trucks continue to plow roads in Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Arlington counties according to VDOT. Staying off the roads allows crews to work safely. Crews are spreading salt and abrasives, as appropriate, concentrating their response efforts on the most heavily traveled routes. VDOT’s goal is to have all state-maintained roads passable within 48 hours after a storm ends. This storm; however, may deliver a second punch as temperatures drop to record levels and icy conditions remain likely into Friday.

Shovel Smart: Tips for Removing Snow Safely and Without Injury

snow shovel

Posted at 1 p.m.

Several inches of snow have fallen throughout areas of the county and the storm isn’t done with us yet! Today’s snow is falling heavy and wet, so we ask that you take care while removing snow to avoid strain and injury.

Shoveling snow can by physically demanding and can lead to injuries such as sprains and strains, but even more serious heart attacks. Please follow these safety tips when you go out in today’s wintry weather:

  1. If you or someone you are with begins to have chest discomfort, especially with one or more of the other signs of a heart attack, call 9-1-1 right away.
  2. If you have a history of heart disease do not shovel without your doctor’s okay.
  3. Shovel small amounts of snow at a time.
  4. Push the snow instead of lifting where possible. If you have a driveway, move snow to the opposite side of where a plow will push.
  5. Use proper form if lifting is necessary: keep your back straight and lift with your legs.
  6. Avoid shoveling under snow and ice covered trees and roof lines due to possible falling limbs, ice and snow.
  7. Take breaks while shoveling and do not overexert yourself, especially if you are inactive or over 40.
  8. Dress in layers and wear warm clothing.

More in this short video:

As for sidewalks, the state and the county do not clear snow and ice from public walkways (sidewalks and trails). While not legally obligated, residents and businesses are asked to help keep sidewalks safe for pedestrians, people with disabilities, elderly and children.

Check out our new resource page, “Take Your Snow and Shovel It” for more information, including this guide on who removes snow:

Snow removal responsibilities

Expect Wide Range of Road Conditions Today; Check VDOT for Updates

Posted: 9:30 a.m.

According to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), crews made significant progress plowing roads across northern Virginia overnight, however drivers will encounter a wide range of changing road conditions across the region today as snow begins to melt. Drivers are asked to be alert to ice and snow this morning, and evolving conditions such as slush and high water throughout the day. Interstates and primary roads in Fairfax County are mostly clear and wet.

Pavement temperatures are still hovering at freezing but should rise later in the day. Crews are already seeing standing water on some roads. As snow melts, drivers are asked to be cautious of this ponding, particularly in right lanes. Crews are also working to clear clogged drains where needed. Crews have also made one pass in most subdivisions during the storm, and due to snow totals will make a second pass in most areas.

Residents are encouraged to check www.vdotplows.org to see the status of plowing in their neighborhoods. Road problems should be reported to VDOT at 1-800-367-7623 or www.virginiadot.org/travel/citizen.asp.

Also, if you are out shoveling today, check out our new resource page, “Take Your Snow and Shovel It” for more information, including this guide on who removes snow:

Snow removal responsibilities

Parks and RECenters Closing at 2 p.m.; Lee District RECenter Closing at 4 p.m.

Due to the inclement weather, Park Authority programs, classes and events at park facilities, including RECenters, will close at 2 p.m., with the exception of Lee District RECenter, which will close at 4 p.m.

Also, all library branches and Neighborhood and Community Services programs, activities and facilities (including community, senior and teen centers) will close at 1 p.m. today, Saturday, Feb. 21. All Fastran routes, including charter trips and Children, Youth and Families (CYF) transportation, are canceled.

Dangerously Cold Temperatures and High Winds on the Way

Posted at 5:50 p.m.

Love is in the air, but as we posted on our Facebook page earlier today, so is the potential for dangerous wind chills (-15 degrees), frostbite, high winds (40-60 mph), power outages and some snow beginning around 6 p.m. today through Sunday afternoon. (forecast)

If you must go outside this evening, please bundle up. Also, remember to bring in pets and secure outdoor items. Plan to check in on homebound neighbors/friends too.

If you see someone outside and unsheltered, call 703-691-2131.

Dangerously cold temperatures and high winds

Possible Power Outages

With the high wind warning in effect tonight from 6 p.m. until 2 p.m. tomorrow afternoon, residents are advised that downed trees and power lines may result in power outages. Minor structural damage is possible and driving high profile vehicles in these conditions will be dangerous.

In case you lose electricity, be ready to report power outages.

With the potential for power outages, also be sure to charge your electronic devices — think your cellphone.

We’ll post additional information here as well as on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Stay connected and informed — and be sure to share with friends and family.

Snow and Ice Could Impact Morning and Afternoon Commutes on Wednesday

Posted at 3:45 p.m.

VDOT logoThe Virginia Department of Transportation is asking drivers to prepare for a day-long storm tomorrow that could make driving hazardous in Fairfax County and Northern Virginia.

You are encouraged to monitor weather forecasts and consider teleworking or delaying travel tomorrow. Also, plan for a longer than normal commute, with snow predicted in the morning and hazardous sleet and freezing rain beginning in the afternoon.

weather forecast Jan. 13-14, 2015

By 4 a.m. Wednesday, VDOT reports that about 700 trucks will be staged throughout Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Arlington counties to treat roads. Additional trucks may be added to handle sleet and snow during the afternoon commute.

Today, crews are pre-treating major roads and trouble spots in Fairfax, Arlington, Loudoun and Prince William counties. On interstates 66, 95, 395, and 495 — including bridges and ramps prone to freezing such as the Springfield interchange, I-66 at Route 29 and the Capital Beltway interchange at Route 1 — crews use liquid magnesium chloride. Problem spots on other major roads, such as the Fairfax County Parkway and routes 1, 7, 28, 29, 50 and 123, are pre-treated with salt brine.

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